August 15, 2018 8:43 pm
Updated: August 15, 2018 9:04 pm

Vernon outsourcing fire dispatch to Kelowna

Watch Above: When a fire is reported in Vernon, soon, the person dispatching the firefighters will be in Kelowna. The city hopes outsourcing dispatch services will allow them to hire more firefighters. Megan Turcato has more.

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When emergency strikes, fire dispatchers take the information and send out the crews.

Currently, in Vernon, B.C., that work is done within sight of the fire trucks at Vernon’s main fire hall, but soon the city’s dispatch will be moving 50 kilometres south to Kelowna.

The city said the money saved by outsourcing means it can afford to hire more firefighters.

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“It equates to almost five full-time firefighters responding day-to-day,” interim fire chief David Lind said.

However, it will also mean the loss of four dispatch jobs in Vernon.

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“While we are pleased to increase our fire suppression manpower, we are very disappointed that this was accomplished by contracting out dispatch and losing four existing members,” said Doug Imrich, acting president of the firefighters union.

Lind said it was sad to see four good people leave the fire department.

“It saddens everyone within our service, but overall the decision is the best decision for the community and the citizens of Vernon,” Lind said.

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Although the Kelowna-based dispatchers may be less familiar with Vernon, the fire chief said moving dispatch will actually improve the city’s firefighting operations as a more centralized service will have the resources to stay up to date on dispatching practices.

“There is an economy of scale required to maintain the technology and the people required to provide dispatch services, and we just couldn’t attain that providing our own stand-alone dispatch services,” Lind said.

Imrich said he is “hopeful that moving dispatch to Kelowna will not affect any response times.”

The switch is slated to happen mid-October.

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